While the myth of stork delivery has recently been repopularized elsewhere, this visually stunning work stands apart.

SOMETIMES IT'S STORKS

A stork-delivery mishap leads a baby across the globe before uniting with family.

Rhyming text reimagines baby delivery: “Babies arrive by different means, / on rickshaws, beasts or submarines.” But this child’s journey, as the parents affectionately explain, began with a distractible stork. Hungry, the winged creature stops for a snack only to lose its bundle to a croc. From whale to bear to dog sled and moose, the infant goes (and grows)—crawling, escaping, traveling, living. At last, the tot arrives home and into the loving arms of expectant parents. Dreamlike digital illustrations with painted collage perfectly match the text. There is a free-form waggishness that permeates the artwork, as the Brothers Hilts play with size, shape, and pattern in unconventional ways that work. Done in a sort of stream-of-consciousness style, fantastical stand-alone images weave together to bring the tale full circle. There is no evidence of an intent to mislead or skirt the age-old question of where babies come from; rather, the sensational nature of the work offers to take readers on delightful flights of fancy. The baby’s timeline from birth to joining parents who have long anticipated a child’s arrival also speaks to families who’ve adopted.

While the myth of stork delivery has recently been repopularized elsewhere, this visually stunning work stands apart. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-25682-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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